The .NET Framework is a development framework that provides a new programming interface to Windows services and APIs, and integrates a number of technologies that emerged from Microsoft during the late 1990s. Microsoft announced the .NET initiative in July 2000. In April 2003, Version 1.1 of the integral .NET Framework was released. This book describes this updated version of the .NET Framework.
The .NET platform consists of four separate product groups:
A set of languages, including C#, J#, and VB.NET; a set of development tools, including Visual Studio .NET; a comprehensive class library for building web services and web and Windows applications; as well as the Common Language Runtime (CLR). These components collectively form the largest part of the .NET Framework.
An offering of commercial web services, specifically the .NET Services initiative; for a fee, developers can use these services in building applications that require them.
A set of .NET-enabled enterprise servers, including SQL Server, Exchange Server, BizTalk Server, and so on. These provide specialized functionality for relational data storage, email, and B2B commerce. Future versions of these products will increasingly support the .NET Framework.
New .NET-enabled, non-PC devices, from cell phones to game boxes.